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This review is from: Graffiti Japan (Hardcover)
When I was teaching high school in the Los Angeles area in the early 1990s the subject of graffiti was contentious. People on the right saw it as defacing public and private property and promoting illegal lifestyles. Those on the left tended to be more tolerant. I had some taggers in my classroom, one of whom was very talented. I had him to do a magazine style report on "writing." It was very good. But I was advised by a colleague not to "reward" such behavior. I found it interesting that KRESS in his introduction states that he began writing "around 1994 and was influenced by the graffiti in Los Angeles."
It seemed to me at first that "bombing" was just marking territory such as when a tiger sprays his domain. And perhaps that was the case. But today many of the taggers are artists, and some are not only very talented, but hardworking and creative. Remo Camerota, who is originally from Australia, took thousands of photos of graffiti in some of the major cities of Japan while befriending and working with local artists. The result is this beautiful compilation.
I had to use a magnifying glass on some of the artwork. There is a lot of intricate detail in Japanese graffiti and a clear emphasis on color. I liked the flow and the movement of the writing. The style is bold and expressive with hints of something underlying and secret. Remo says that he would not have been able to find a lot of the graffiti without the help of the writers who showed him their hidden places.
The way the book is put together with interviews with the various writers along with glossy photos of their work brings to life not only the world of the writing "crews" but of modern Japan itself. Each city has its own scene and style according to KRESS.
This isn't your father's graffiti. These artists have taken tagging to an entirely new level in terms of artistic expression and achievement. The photography in this book serves not only to show us the art, which will weather and eventually disappear, but to capture it for generations to come.